STARRED REVIEW
February 2015

Two sides of a Louisiana neighborhood

By M.O. Walsh
Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, has its fair share of glamorous and not-so-glamorous stories. M.O. Walsh, author of My Sunshine Away, grew up there, so he captures these contradictions effortlessly in his stunning debut.
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Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, has its fair share of glamorous and not-so-glamorous stories. M.O. Walsh, author of My Sunshine Away, grew up there, so he captures these contradictions effortlessly in his stunning debut.

Set in 1989, the novel tells the heartbreaking story of Lindy Simpson, the once carefree and spirited track star whose life goes awry after she is attacked on her own street. The mystery unravels from the perspective of Lindy’s childhood neighbor and playmate, now 14, who has been in love with Lindy for as long as he can remember.

While showing the chilling effect the crime has on all of Piney Creek Road, Walsh also raises the question of how a horrific crime can happen in a seemingly idyllic neighborhood. And the answer is, like so many things in Louisiana, that nothing is as ideal as it seems. Kids playing in the street are in constant battle against being smothered by mosquitoes and humidity. Neighborhood cookouts buzz with energy but also the gossip of divorce and family tragedies.

Walsh juxtaposes the beauty and terror of the place in a way that leaves you utterly captivated. It’s a world that seems foreign to outsiders but also resonates with the most universal of sentiments, including the desire to belong, the way memory can both create and fill voids, and how peace often follows the realization that the potential for good is in all of us.

From beginning to end, My Sunshine Away is full of wisdom, wit and wonder.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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My Sunshine Away

My Sunshine Away

By M.O. Walsh
Putnam
ISBN 9780399169526

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